Postal-Pricing Problems Cost Consumers DearlyRoss Marchand on June 05, 2019
This article originally appeared in Morning Consult on June 5, 2019.
There is a severe problem with leadership at the U.S. Postal Service as the agency’s fiscal cracks grow wider by the day. In the second quarter of 2019, the USPS reported net losses of $2.1 billion and declining revenues nearly across the board. The one bright spot is shipping and packaging volume (up .3 percent compared to the same quarter last year), but “competitive products” revenue from items such as packages don’t nearly make up for the gargantuan drop in regular mail volume. This “bright spot” may actually exacerbate USPS’ problems unless they lift the veil of secrecy of pricing and make the rates more realistic.
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On World IP Day, Return Mail Case Shows Importance of IP ProtectionRoss Marchand on April 26, 2019
World IP Day (April 26, 2019) is a day to recognize the importance of innovators in making all lives easier and better. While the U.S. remains at the top of global intellectual property (IP) rankings, there are still serious threats to IP protection in the U.S.. Since the start of the decade, inventors have increasingly been thrown to the curb as infringers made use of the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) to render patents invalid in a “streamlined” process absent due process. Now, the federal government (via the United States Postal Service) is trying to push the system’s boundaries, arguing that it should be allowed to have patents invalidated through PTAB without legal recourse. Like most other government agencies, the Postal Service uses the principle of “sovereign immunity” to shield itself against most legal claims. Even when the government can be sued, a different set of rules apply to agencies. If the USPS takes someone’s IP and a court finds that they’ve infringed on an invention, it’s impossible to force the agency to stop use via injunction. The worst that can happen is a financial penalty.
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New Report Shows Postal Reform Within ReachRoss Marchand on January 31, 2019
(This op-ed orginally appeared on Townhall.com on January 31, 2019) On January 27, the United States Postal Service (USPS) hiked up the price of First-Class Forever stamps from 50 to 55 cents, the largest percentage increase in stamp prices since the Civil War. Postal leadership hopes that these increases will help mask historic net losses - most recently, $3.9 billion in fiscal year 2018. The USPS insists that their gargantuan financial issues were caused by Congress, specifically a mandate passed in 2006 that required the agency to set aside money ahead of time for workers’ retirement obligations. A new report by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) shows that USPS management can save more than $3.3 billion each year by curtailing waste and reforming its pricing system. TPA also demonstrates that, contrary to the USPS’ claim that it takes no taxpayer money, the agency receives more than $3.6 billion annually in tax expenditures from federal and state governments. With all of the USPS’s resources and reform opportunities, there is simply no reason for large losses to continue.
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Misguided Postal Reform Would Bilk Taxpayers for Billions of DollarsRoss Marchand on September 11, 2018
This article originally appeared in the Daily Caller on May 3, 2018.
Through years of mismanagement and misguided priorities, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has dug itself into a deep financial hole. After posting yet another loss of $540 million for the first quarter of the year and enduring net losses for 11 straight years, USPS officials and lawmakers alike are eager to stem the bleeding. On March 22, Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) introduced a postal reform bill that would make a number of significant changes to USPS operations and liabilities. While some reforms are promising, the heft of the legislation would open the door to further taxpayer subsidization of USPS mismanagement. Cancelling outstanding debt payments and transferring health-related retirement liabilities to Medicare would only set the stage for further taxpayer abuse.
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The Postal Service & Amazon: Crony Capitalism Delivered to Your DoorRoss Marchand on August 27, 2018
This article originally appeared in the American Conservative on April 5, 2018.
The United States Postal Service is deep in the red, with a dwindling list of options available to stop the bleeding. USPS officials and Congress have continually neglected to employ sound financial management, which has resulted in $15 billion in debt and more than $100 billion in unfunded liabilities for the Postal Service. Despite inept leadership, anyone bringing attention to these issues is bound to be repeatedly attacked as a corporate shill trying to harm the USPS.
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USPS cronyism is unaffordable for shippers and customersRoss Marchand on January 03, 2018
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is as determined as ever to make customers pay more as they defend ludicrous schemes keeping the agency deep in debt. The cost of First-Class postage is slated to increase from 49 to 50 cents on January 21 as part of a desperate move by postal officials to stem the financial bleeding. As the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has previously documented, increases in postage rates promote risky behaviors with non-postal business ventures and shore up liabilities in a massively-underfunded pension system buoyed by unrealistic promises. But, the biggest and ugliest secret lies below the surface in the rampant postal cronyism that disproportionately benefits e-commerce giants such as Amazon. In April, a Citigroup analysis found that Amazon gets roughly$1.50 in shipping subsidies from every package delivered via the Postal Service.
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